Hurricane Irene is heading for The Barclays in New Jersey this Sunday and while that’s bad news for the residents of the northeast US and the PGA Tour, it remains to be seen if it’s good or bad news for Padraig Harrington’s FedEx Cup hopes.
Set to resume his first round at four under par with seven holes to complete, he’s projected to rise to 84th in the FedEx Cup standings and qualify among the top 100 for next week’s second play-off event in Boston if he can remain in the top 20 percent on the leadboard.
As CBS’ Steve Elling reports, the event could run until Tuesday if the hurricane hits on Sunday as scheduled. A 72 hole tournament is the PGA Tour’s goal but having already taken 10 inches of rain this week and with significant tree damage likely if the Force 3 hurricane rolls through Plainfield Country Club, it remains to be seen if more than two rounds can be played.
“If we get five or seven inches of rain here, you know, we are probably dead in the water,” [tournament official Slugger] White said of the New Jersey track - a state where the governor has already declared a state of emergency.
Jonathan Byrd, who opened with a 65, was asked if he’d rather potentially stay until Tuesday or chop off 18 holes and finish Saturday, and there was a surprisingly long pause before he answered.
“I’d say finish on Saturday with 54 and just let everybody [understand], so everybody knows that’s the deal,” Byrd said. “I mean, it’s a big predicament, because there’s just a lot on the line.”
That could suit Harrington, if he finishes off a good round today and continues his good form when he eventually completes his second round (today or tomorrow).
According to the PGA Tour’s Mike McAllister, safety is a concern. But the tour has plenty of leeway in terms of time with next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship not scheduled to begin unti this day week.
White also said that crews at the tournament will start preparing for the heavy winds that are expected to blow through the course by pulling the mesh from the TV towers and possibly taking the scoreboards down so that they don’t become “projectiles out there.”
Safety is the primary concern.
“Years and years ago at The Honda classic at Weston Hills, we had stuff that was just blowing around and it was very, very dangerous,” White said. “We are not going to take that chance, I can guarantee you.”
One other factor to consider: the next event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, does not start until Friday due to its traditional Labor Day finish.
White was asked if that extra day provides The Barclays with any leeway. He said it does — but with certain provisions that could involve PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.
“The only time we would ever go to Tuesday is if we got half the field finished on Monday,” White said. “Now, in order to go to Tuesday, if we didn’t get to that, then the Commissioner would have to step in and override the regulation. He’s the only one that could do that unilaterally. So I’ve got him on fast dial right now.”
The players hope that any extra time will allow them to complete 72 holes.